Fiona Shaw

Fiona Shawe:

Available to come to book groups? Yes
Available to give talks? Yes
Available for school visits? Yes
About Me
I fell into writing by way of a crisis. Finding my life hijacked by a severe post-natal breakdown after the birth of my second child, I decided to write about it in what became my first book, the fierce and eloquent memoir, Out of Me (1997). After this I turned with relief to fiction. My first novel, The Sweetest Thing (2003), is set in York in the late nineteenth century and concerns itself with the chocolate wars, voyeurism, love, Quakerism and a little bit of madness. My second novel, The Picture She Took (2005), is an altogether graver affair. Set in England after the Great War, and Ireland after the Black and Tan War, it’s a detective story of a kind, interweaving the lives of an impatient and frustrated young woman and a haunted young man. My third, Tell it to the Bees (2009), is a three-hander. It tells the story of two women and their love for each other, at a time when such love was almost unimaginable; and of Charlie, a small boy who knows more than he understands. In my fourth novel, A Stone’s Throw (2012), something is set spinning one cold, snow-struck day when a father and son set out on a journey. A single, traumatic event touches the lives of three generations and the novel travels across the Atlantic during WW2, to Africa and back, before finally the trauma’s force is spent, the stone sinks and the novel closes.

I grew up in London but have lived all my adult life in and near York. I am a lecturer in Creative Writing at Northumbria University and a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow. I cycle a great deal (it is York), sing a capella Finnish music in a group called Enkelit, acquire more films than I have time to watch, tend an allotment, growing vegetables with variable success, long to travel, and read all the time. I am also working on my fifth novel.

My books

Cover of Shaw: A Stone's ThrowFiona Shaw
A Stone’s Throw
Serpent’s Tail, 2012 Paperback/e-book
Genre:Literary Fiction; Historical novel
Set in York? No
Description: Two fathers: one on a fateful journey, one skimming stones. Between them is Meg. She’s survived grief, death by water, war. She’s married and loved, and lost. Haunted by her own decisions, she watches her son live with his. Each must let go of the past and face the future.
Reviews: ‘Fiona Shaw writes with a pure style and an honest heart.’ Emma Donoghue
‘As subtle and delicate as gossamer… a masterclass in restraint’ Financial Times
‘Exquisitely written’ Daily Mirror
‘Shot through with moments of pure poetry’ Independent
Find out more and buy from: Author’s website l Amazon  l Publisher’s website

Cover of Shaw: Tell it to the beesFiona Shaw
Tell it to the Bees
Tindal Street, 2009. Paperback/e-book/Audio
Genre: Literary fiction, historical fiction
Set in York? No
Description: Lydia is distraught at her marriage break-up. When her son Charlie befriends the town’s doctor, her life turns upside-down.
Charlie tells his secrets only to the bees, but he can’t keep his mother’s friendship to himself. As Lydia and Jean become closer, rumours fly and threaten to shatter Charlie’s world.
Reviews: ‘Shaw’s writing is lovely: elegant, subtle and haunting’ The Times
‘Powerfully exposes the wrenches of prejudice…A tender and unlikely page-turner’ Financial Times
‘A page-turning, involving read that makes you ask big questions about the world and its prejudices. Liberating and uplifting.’ Jackie Kay
‘…echoes of Revolutionary Road. Delicate, but feistily written.’ Elle
Find out more and buy from: Author’s website l Amazon  l Publisher’s website

Cover of Shaw: The picture she tookFiona Shaw
The Picture She Took
Virago, 2005
Genre: Literary fiction. Historical fiction
Set in York? Set partly in Yorkshire
Description: War is the making of Jude, nursing soldiers on the Western Front. She photographs everything, including the men. Daniel has returned from war in Ireland a haunted man. One chance snapshot, two soldiers sharing a cigarette, connects them; it will expose the past, and threaten the future. Can they survive?
Reviews: ‘The kind of historical romance that matches anything by Sebastian Faulks or Penelpe Fitzgerald… Shaw has a great talent for getting right to the inner core of her characters’ Independent on Sunday
‘Nothing is quite as it seems in Shaw’s historical fiction….Absorbing and moving in equal measure.’ Time Out
Find out more and buy from:Author’s website l Amazon

Cover of Shaw - The Sweetest ThingFiona Shaw
The Sweetest Thing
Virago, 2003. Paperback/e-book
Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical fiction
Set in York? Yes
Description: Victorian York: a story is played out inside the cocoa factory and asylum, photographic studio and Meeting House. A contemporary novel about late-Victorian life, it gives us a world of morality, espionage and cocoa, in which a fortune can be made from a mouthful of sugar and a pin-up girl.
Reviews: ‘Richly researched, warmly characterised and admirably humane’ Daily Mail
‘triumphs through its unpretentiousness…For a writer to re-enact the past through the moral strength of her protagonists proclaims a considerable talent.’ TLS
‘An erotic and intimate story… a truly top flight historical novel…[which] cannot be praised too highly.’ Historical Novels Review
Find out more and buy from: Author’s website l Amazon

Cover of Shaw - Out of MeFiona Shaw
Out of Me: The Story of a Postnatal Breakdown
Penguin,1997. Paperback/e-book
Genre: Autobiography
Set in York? Yes
Description: A loving husband, dream cottage, new baby. But ten days later hospitalised in a psychiatric unit with severe postnatal depression.
Fiona describes the descent into hell and months of despair which nearly destroyed her. Only when she produced this startling testimony could she take back her life again.
Reviews: ‘An exceptional memoir, written with a discipline that outfaces chaos. At times, it makes… The Bell Jar ring hollow.’ Observer
‘The hell [described] in this extraordinary testament does have an exit, but she had to make it out of thin air… She remade herself memory by memory, word by word.’ Guardian
Find out more and buy from: Author’s website l Amazon

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